A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Non-Negotiables for Effective and Biblical Abuse Ministry

Recently we composed this statement of what we call our “non-negotiables” for abuse ministry. We call them this because they are not points that we are willing to “agree to disagree” with. You might say that this list serves as our philosophy of ministry in this field, and in capsule form states fundamental truths that every abuse ministry must embrace if it is to be effective and biblical. These are the hard-learned truths which determine all of what we do here. They also serve as the criteria by which we evaluate books, speakers, and organizations. Unless such entities adhere to these non-negotiables without reservation, we will not recommend nor endorse them to our readers.

For those ministering in domestic abuse situations, please read this list carefully. If you find that you do not concur with all points in this list, we encourage you to prayerfully reevaluate your beliefs and your practice.

1) A clear definition of domestic abuse and of the nature of the abuser is vital for proper ministry to abuse victims.

a) The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his victim subordinated and under his control.  This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

 b) The definition of a domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he* chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control. (*sometimes the genders are reversed)

2) A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed (it cannot be fixed). It needs to be ended. Christians should encourage and support the victim to make her own decisions as to when and how to set boundaries against the abuser and distance herself from him physically and/or legally. True Christians should help (but never pressure) victims of abuse to get free from the abuser’s oppression to the greatest extent possible, recognizing that leaving an abuser is not a simple or easy step for many abuse victims, and that society and the church often compound the difficulties victims face.

3) Divorce for abuse is not only permitted by God, but blessed by Him. The institution of marriage must not be prioritized over the safety of the individuals within it.

4) Any counseling of the abuser must begin with the threatening of the Law of God, not with the promises of the gospel, and it must remain Law as long as the abuser remains unrepentant.

5) The abuser is to be dealt with as an unbeliever, not as a Christian. If he has been passing himself off as a believer, the church ought to discipline him as per 1 Cor. 5:11-13.

6) The abuser cannot be “educated” into a non-abuser. That is to say, the only means by which the wicked can become saints is through the thundering of the law of God and subsequent faith and repentance toward Christ.

7) We hold to an informed pessimism regarding the potential for an abuser to change into a non-abuser, recognizing that abusers typically feign repentance and live a lie. Genuine heart-change in an abuser is very rare, and therefore we must take great care to not give victims a false hope that their abuser is going to change for the better.

8) While all human beings are born into this world in a fallen condition as sinners, not all are abusers. This means that statements such as “we are all sinners the same as the abuser” are unscriptural, false, and lay unjust burdens on abuse victims by what we call sin-leveling —raising the victim’s guilt and minimizing the evil of the abuser and his guilt. The abuse victim is not to be blamed in any way for the abuse suffered.

9) Couple’s counseling must be ruled out for an abuse scenario. Any mention of counseling which could be interpreted by the hearers as endorsing couple counseling,  ‘marital counseling,’ or ‘marital intensives” is dangerous because it tends to mutualize the blame: it conveys that ‘the couple’ or ‘the marriage’ is the problem, rather than the abuser being the problem.

10) The many ways the victim has responded to the abuse and resisted the abuse need to be elucidated and honored. The victim must not be pathologized for the ways she has responded to the abuse. Depicting the victim’s responses as ‘her pathology’ dishonors her, and it does not acknowledge the effects of trauma.

11) Biblical forgiveness does not always require reconciliation of relationship with the offender. In cases of abuse, while the victim can forgive in the sense of not seeking personal vengeance, reconciliation of relationship is not required by God and it usually ends up being unsafe for the victim.

12) As the church strives to help and protect the victim, we must ensure the victim’s right to Christian liberty and resist the temptation to dictate and enforce church decisions upon the victim. We maintain that the decision to separate from and divorce an abuser for reasons of abuse, for example, is a matter of conscience for the victim and does not come within the jurisdiction of the church to dictate.

13) We reject patriarchy. By “patriarchy,” we do not mean any idea of the Bible’s teaching on proper biblical responsibilities given to husbands and wives (such as in Eph 5). We do mean, and we reject, teaching that presents a man as superior to a woman. Common teachings of patriarchy include, for example, the husband and father as priest of his home, the insistence that a wife is never to criticize her husband, etc.

14) One day, this may not be a ’non-negotiable’ but at present it is. The visible church at large must be indicted for the way it has been enabling domestic abusers. Those doing domestic abuse ministry need to call the church to explicit reforms and to indict those who have been enabling abusers, and this needs to be done with a spirit of outrage such as Jesus Christ, the Prophets and the Apostles demonstrated when confronting injustice and false teachers. Anything less is a failure of justice and truth.


  1. Alec

    Thanks so much for this, but am unclear regards definition of “pager” in paragraph 1.a.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Alec – thank you. I changed “pager” to “target.” Either auto-correct put pager in there on us or Barbara used an Oz word we yanks don’t understand 🙂

  2. Alec

    And here I thought I’d learn a new Oz definition of “pager” 😉

  3. Nathan "Ray" Clark

    I would like to hear some explanation of the responsibility to God as to the wedding vow. Mainly because it is not just a vow to each other but a vow to God. I know the answers but would like to hear your discussion. Thank you…

    • Nathan, I suggest you read my book, as it has a whole chapter on Numbers 30 and how it can be applied to the wife’s wedding vow in cases of domestic abuse.
      Also, you suggest you look at our posts tagged marriage vows.

  4. Feeling hopeless

    I’m lost, tired, alone and hopeless…
    Tried two different Churches?? Pastor at first seemed willing to be my Christ Brother and reach out to my abusive husband to help him and our marriage. The abuse started the week we married???
    When I’d run away and sleep in my car to get away from the relentless brow beating and eggshells I lived in, I’d call my Pastor! I wanted to be transparent and accountable, like God’s word says!
    He seemed to love us and I loved him and his Pastor wife. I loved this church and was so willing to give anything to love and serve my God in this facility to the best I could…

    As I was sharing often with both Sr Pastor and His Wife, predominantly him, because his wife worked, I spoke via phone to him. I told Pastor the truth of what was happening, the two seemed willing to help? His wife even has experience in restoring relationships.

    Something went wrong? As I shared with my Sr Pastor the extremities of abusers I just couldn’t take, while I was freezing in my van many nights, and why I left and how desperately I needed his help… He seemed at first, very willing to hear and help… He even made comments of support for help and involvement like, me and my wife are here… Just give me more time to get to know and build relationship with my brother, That’s just wrong!, I’m here for you, your not alone, perhaps it’s time for me to get in my brothers face!

    Then he has turned against me? 😦

    [eds. note: Comment edited for identity safety]

    • twbtc

      Hi Feeling Hopeless,
      Welcome to the blog! You will have noticed that I changed your screen name to help protect your identity. If you want a different screen name, contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com.

      Also, may I suggest you read our New Users’ Information page found on the top menu bar. It has information on how to stay safe while commenting on the blog.

      Again, Welcome!

    • Dear Feeling Hopeless, first of all, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for sharing 🙂

      It certainly does sound like ‘something went wrong’ — but it was not you that made it go wrong. I can make a guess, from what you wrote above, that the pastor went wrong. This is what makes me think that:

      Just give me more time to get to know and build relationship with my brother

      See how he assumed that your abuser is a brother in Christ? That is a presumption, a dangerous presumption. It opens the gate wide to the abuser spinning his lies (his twisted version of what is happening in the marriage) to the pastor. And it would seem that the pastor may have naively succumbed to these lies.

    • Friendinneed from Europe

      An abuser can not be educated into a non abuser. I totally agree. A healthy person wants to improve themselves. Sadly some people have no intention to improve themselves. I just walked by 2 elders from the largest church here, they live closeby. He a lawyer knowing that abuse is unacceptable, she a psychiatric nurse. Both accepted the abusive situation in my marriage, wanted to nurse it and keep in installed, feed it and water it. Also these christians were very happy to help my daughter back into an unhealthy abusive situation. It took me years to see the facts that there are people who abuse and have no intention of stopping. I am very glad not to have these people as friends anymore. Luckily the majority of other christian friends helped me divorce. For which I am very happy. I hope this is of some help.

  5. Barb

    Absolutely wonderful to read. I wish I had this to read and be encouraged by ten years ago, but through leaving a “Pharaoh”-type husband, I agree with all you have written above. I sure did not ever have a problem divorcing, as I was almost proud of myself for standing up for what is right, and leaving. A few years before leaving, it was almost a revelation to me that I could say No. Crazy.

  6. imsetfree

    Wish I could use number 10 on myself. To somehow heal the guilt I feel for reacting the way I do

  7. Friendinneed From Europe

    Hello All, I saw something pop up. Thought I’d leave a note. Of course you have all read about Jezebel in the Bible, read also the story of Nehemiah and Sanballat. Read also how Jehu spoke to or rather not spoke to his adversary. The same for Nehemiah. Wise teachings that us Christians get to use.

    This year I was able to help two ladies. One from a church who endorsed the abuser. I now saw it full in the face how a church helped an abuser. Not my church, thank you. This lady had already recognised the domestic abuse and was decided to not put up with it. She was feeling lonesome, was recognised in a house group and helped, it’s a joy to help her. It was his second marriage, his parents covered up his bad background. A second a lady in a bad court case. She came to be prepared and advised, she came out of the case heavily in her favour. It is nice to help others and it helps me too. I wished I knew all I know now then; I would have ended my bad marriage sooner.

    • Hi Friendinneed, nice to hear all your good news!

  8. Lost

    I need help! How can I get in touch with Pastor Jeff C and the church he talks about in his sermons. I’m not getting any help and the church is not seeing clearly here. I don’t even want to go back there! The pastor has been abusive toward his own wife! I’m now angry and depressed and have sinned in anger myself. I can’t take this anymore!

    • UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Dear Lost, if you click on our About tab you will find the email addresses of all the ACFJ team.

      The church Jeff pastors is in Tillamook Oregon. Here is their “about” page on sermon audio: Christ Reformation Church [Internet Archive link]

      Bear in mind that Jeff’s time is limited — through this blog we are supporting hundreds if not thousands of victim/survivors.

      I think if you keep reading this blog and the resources we recommend, you will find you start to see things more clearly. We call this ‘coming out of the fog’. You are already somewhat out of the fog in that you realise your husband is abusing you and has recruited the kids and the church to be his supporters (and thus be hostile and unsupportive to you).

      Lastly, here are two posts about anger which you might find helpful. 🙂

      Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

      Anger, hatred, vengeance: – am I feeling them? are my feelings wrong?

  9. Lost

    I’m sorry what does number 14 mean? I can’t think clearly right now but I’d like to know. Thanks for the help

    • 14) says—

      One day, this may not be a ’non-negotiable’ but at present it is. The visible church at large must be indicted for the way it has been enabling domestic abusers. Those doing domestic abuse ministry need to call the church to explicit reforms and to indict those who have been enabling abusers, and this needs to be done with a spirit of outrage such as Jesus Christ, the Prophets and the Apostles demonstrated when confronting injustice and false teachers. Anything less is a failure of justice and truth.

      The visible church is composed of the people who attend church and say they are Christians. Not all people in the visible church are in fact Christians. Some are wicked deceivers who are passing themselves off as Christians because they figure it will help them achieve their wicked lustful power-hungry agendas. Some are people who think they have been born again and are not intentionally malicious with evil agendas but they have not actually been born again: they only know the propositions of the faith, they have not been regenerated (born again) so they are not in Christ and Christ is not in them.

      In our observation, the visible church sometimes ‘says’ it takes a righteous stand against domestic abuse, but in fact the stand it takes is wishy washy. It fails to show outrage. It fails to FULLY stand with the victims. It fails to properly discipline the abusers. Those in the visible church who say they are taking a stand against domestic abuse are not credible to us (and we do not consider them our allies) unless they take the same kind of position we do — calling for the church to explicitly and profoundly REFORM the way it understands and deals with abuse.

      I hope that makes it more clear. I can be too wordy, I know.

      The visible church is not the same as the invisible church. The invisible church consists of all the believers of all time who have been born again — regenerated. (John 3).
      The terms came from Augustine of Hippo, I think. One of the early church fathers.

      Sometimes when I sit in a church service I wonder whether I am the only member of the invisible church who is present there!

      • [Sorry for the typo! I wrote ‘visible’ in that last sentence but have not corrected it to INvisible.]

      • Lost

        How do I know if I’m “born again”. What if I think I am but am not?”

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on #14z Also what did you mean by one day #14 may not be a “non-negotiable”?

      • How do I know if I’m “born again”. What if I think I am but am not?

        Fisher’s Catechism gives pretty a good definition of saving faith. (That link takes you to Question 86 of Fisher’s Catechism.)

        QUESTION 86 of the catechism asks: What is faith in Jesus Christ?

        ANSWER: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

        Sub-question 9: What is saving and justifying faith?
        Answer: It is that faith in Jesus Christ, which is described in the answer, “whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation,” &c.

        I suggest you click on the link I gave and read the whole thing. Bear in mind that Fisher’s Catechism was written in the 1600s as an amplification of the Westminster Confession documents, and the way they wrote English is a little different from how we do today. But Scripture references are given to back up each point, so you can look them up to check what the Catechism says to see if it accords with the Bible. Happy studying!

      • Also, I suggest you read Are You Regenerate? by J. C. Ryle [Internet Archive link]. It is easy to read and digest.

        In the third section of his article, Ryle discusses the MARKS of being Regenerate, or born again.
        I shall quote that section in full:

        Now these signs and evidences are laid down plainly for us in Scripture. God has not left us in ignorance on this point. He foresaw how some would torture themselves with doubts and questionings, and would never believe it was well with their souls. He foresaw how others would take it for granted they were Regenerate who had no right to do so at all. He has therefore mercifully provided us with a test and gauge of our spiritual condition, in the First Epistle general of John. There He has written for our learning, what the Regenerate man is, and what the Regenerate man does—his ways, his habits, his manner of life, his faith, his experience. Everyone who wishes to possess the key to a right understanding of this subject, should thoroughly study this First Epistle of John.

        Reader, I invite your particular attention to these marks and evidences of Regeneration, while I try to set them before you in order. Forget everything else in this volume, if you will—but do not forget this part of it. I might easily mention other evidences besides those I am about to mention. But I will not do so. I would rather confine myself to the First Epistle of John, because of the peculiar explicitness of its statements about the man that is born of God. He that has an ear, let him hear what the beloved Apostle says about the marks of Regeneration.

        1) First of all, John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning.” (1 John 3:9; 5:18.)

        A Regenerate man does not commit sin as a habit. He no longer sins with his heart and will, and whole inclination, as an unregenerate man does. There was probably a time when he did not think whether his actions were sinful or not, and never felt grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin—they were friends. Now he hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, counts it his greatest plague, groans under the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be delivered from it altogether. In one word, sin no longer pleases him, nor is even a matter of indifference—it has become the abominable thing which he hates. He cannot prevent it dwelling within him. “If he said he had no sin, there would be no truth in him” (1 John 1:8)—but he can say that he keenly abhors it, and the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts arising within him, and shortcomings, omissions, and defects appearing, both in his words and actions. He knows, as James says, that “In many things we offend all.” (James 3:2.) But he can say truly, and as in the sight of God, that these things are a daily grief and sorrow to him, and that his whole nature does not consent unto them, as that of the unregenerate man does. Reader, I place this mark before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God?1

        1“The interpretation of this place that I judge to be the most natural and unforced, is this—’No one born of God makes a practice of sinning;’ that is, he does not sin in that malignant manner in which the children of the devil do—he does not make a trade of sin, nor live in the constant and allowed practice of it. There is a great difference between regenerate and unregenerate people in the very sins that they commit. All indeed sin—but a child of God cannot sin—that is, though he does sin, yet he cannot sin after such a manner as wicked and unregenerate men do.”—Hopkins. 1670.

        2) Secondly. John says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” (1 John 5:1.)

        A Regenerate man believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior by whom his soul can be pardoned and redeemed; that He is the divine person appointed and anointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and that beside Him there is no Savior at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness—but in Christ he sees ground for the fullest confidence, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven and his iniquities all put away. He believes that for the sake of Christ’s finished work and death upon the cross, he is reckoned righteous in God’s sight, and may look forward to death and judgment without alarm. He may have his doubts and fears. He may sometimes tell you he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him whether he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him whether he will rest his hopes of eternal life on his own goodness, his own amendments, his prayers, his minister, his doings in Church and out of Church, either in whole or in part, and see what he will reply. Ask him whether he will give up Christ, and place his confidence in any other way of salvation. Depend upon it he would say, that though he does feel weak and bad, he would not give up Christ for all the world. Depend upon it—he would say he found a preciousness in Christ, a suitableness to his own soul in Christ, that he found no where else, and that he must cling to Him.

        Reader, I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God?

        3) Thirdly. John says, “Everyone that does righteousness is born of Him.” (1 John 2:29.)

        The Regenerate man is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God, to avoid the things that God hates. His aim and desire is to love God with heart and soul, and mind and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself. His wish is to be continually looking to Christ as his example as well as his Savior, and to show himself Christ’s friend by doing whatever Christ commands. No doubt he is not perfect. None will tell you that sooner than himself. He groans under the burden of indwelling corruption cleaving to him. He finds an evil principle within him constantly warring against grace, and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence. In spite of all short-comings, the average bent and bias of his ways is holy—his doings holy—his tastes holy—and his habits holy. In spite of all his swerving and turning aside, like a ship going against a contrary wind, the general course of his life is in one direction—toward God and for God. And though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether he is a Christian at all, in his calmer moments he will generally be able to say, with old John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world—but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”2

        2“Let none conclude that they have no grace, because they have many imperfections in their obedience. Your grace may be very weak and imperfect, and yet you may be truly born again to God, and be a genuine son and heir of heaven.”—Hopkins. 1670.

        Reader, I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God?

        4) Fourthly. John says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (1 John 3:14.)

        A Regenerate man has a special LOVE for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a genuine general love—but he has a special love for those who are of one mind with himself. Like his Lord and Savior, he loves the worst of sinners, and could weep over them—but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company. He is never so happy as when he is among the saints and the excellent of the earth. Others may value learning, or cleverness, or agreeableness, or riches, or rank—in the society they choose. The Regenerate man values grace. Those who have most grace, and are most like Christ, are those he loves most. He feels that they are members of the same family with himself, his brethren, his sisters, children of the same Father. He feels that they are fellow-soldiers fighting under the same captain, warring against the same enemy. He feels that they are his fellow-travelers, journeying along the same road, tried by the same difficulties, and soon about to rest with him in the same eternal home. He understands them, and they understand him. There is a kind of spiritual brotherhood between them. He and they may be very different in many ways—in rank, in station, in wealth. What does it matter? They are Jesus Christ’s people. They are his Father’s sons and daughters. Then he cannot help loving them.

        Reader, I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God?

        5) Fifthly. John says, “Whoever is born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5:4.)

        A Regenerate man does not make the WORLD’S opinion his rule of right and wrong. He goes against the stream of the world’s ways, notions, and customs. “What will men say?” is no longer a turning point with him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which most around him call happiness. He cannot enjoy their enjoyments—they weary him; they appear to him vain, unprofitable, and unworthy of an immortal being. He overcomes the fear of the world. He is content to do many things which all around him think unnecessary, to say the least. They find fault with him—it does not move him. They ridicule him—he does not give way. He loves the praise of God more than the praise of man. He fears offending Him more than giving offence to man. He has counted the cost. He has taken his stand. It is a small thing with him now whether he is blamed or praised. His eye is upon Him who is invisible. He is resolved to follow Jesus wherever he goes. It may be necessary in this following to come out from the world and be separate. The Regenerate man will not shrink from doing so. Tell him that he is unlike other people, that his views are not the views of society generally, and that he is making himself singular and peculiar—you will not shake him. He is no longer the servant of fashion and custom. To please the world is quite a secondary consideration with him. His first aim is to please God.

        Reader, I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God?

        6) Sixthly. John says, “He who was born of God keeps himself.” (1 John 5:18.)

        A Regenerate man is very careful of his own soul. He endeavors not only to keep clear of sin—but also to keep clear of everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He feels that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is far more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the employment of his time—his chief desire about it is to spend it profitably. He is careful about the books he reads—he fears getting his mind poisoned by mischievous writings. He is careful about the friendships he forms—it is not enough for him that people are kind, and amiable, and good-natured—all this is very well—but will they do good to his soul? He is careful over his own daily habits and behavior—he tries to recollect that his own heart is deceitful, and that the world is full of wickedness, that the devil is always laboring to do him harm, and therefore he would sincerely be always on his guard. He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy’s country, to wear his armor continually, and to be prepared for temptation. He finds by experience that his soul is ever among enemies, and he studies to be a watchful, humble, prayerful man.

        Reader, I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say of you? Are you born of God?

        Such are the six great marks of Regeneration, which God has given for our learning. Let everyone who has gone so far with me, read them over with attention, and lay them to heart. I believe they were written with the view to settle the great question of the present day, and intended to prevent disputes. Once more then, I ask the reader to mark and consider them.

        I know there is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks among those who are Regenerate. In some people they are faint, dim, feeble, and hardly to be discerned. You almost need a microscope to make them out. In others they are bold, sharp, clear, plain, and unmistakable, so that he who runs may read them. Some of these marks are more visible in some people, and others are more visible in others. It seldom happens that all are equally manifest in one and the same soul. All this I am quite ready to allow.

        But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted the six marks of being born of God. Here are certain positive things laid down by John, as parts of the Regenerate man’s character, as plainly and distinctly as the features of a man’s face. Here is an inspired Apostle writing one of the last general Epistles to the Church of Christ, telling us that a man born of God—
        does not commit sin;
        believes that Jesus is the Christ;
        does righteousness;
        loves the brethren;
        overcomes the world;
        and keeps himself.

        And more than once in the very same Epistle when these marks are mentioned, the Apostle tells us that he who has not this or that mark, is “not of God.” I ask the reader to observe all this.

        Now what shall we say to these things? What they can say who hold that Regeneration is only an admission to outward Church privileges, I am sure I do not know. For myself I say boldly, I can only come to one conclusion. That conclusion is, that those people only are regenerate who have these six marks about them, and that all men and women who have not these marks, are not regenerate, are not born again. And I firmly believe that this is the conclusion to which the Apostle wished us to come.

        Reader, have you these marks? I know not what your opinions may be on this much-disputed subject of Regeneration. I know not on which side you may rank yourself. But once for all I warn you, if you find nothing in yourself answering to the marks I have been speaking of, you have reason indeed to be afraid. Without these marks it is vain to fancy you are Scripturally regenerate. The witness of the Apostle John is clear and express, that you are not. There must be a certain family likeness between God and His children. Without it you are none of His. There must be some visible evidence of the Spirit being within you, as plain as the stamp upon gold and silver, however small. Without this evidence you are only boasting of a false faith. Show me your faith without your works, said the Apostle James, when he wrote against those who are content with a dead faith. Show me your Regeneration without its fruits, is an argument that ought to be pressed home on many a conscience in the present day.

        Reader, if you have NOT these marks, awake to a sense of your danger. Arise from your sleep of indifference and unconcern. Know the immense peril of hell and eternal misery in which you stand. Begin to use diligently every means by which God is ordinarily pleased to give grace to men’s hearts, when they have not received it in their youth. Be diligent in hearing the Gospel preached. Be diligent in reading the Bible. Be diligent, above all, in prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

        If you take this course, I have every hope for you. None ever sought the Lord Jesus Christ in simplicity and sincerity—and sought in vain.

        If, on the contrary, you refuse to take this course, and will continue as you are, I have little hope for you, and many fears. If the Bible be true, you are not yet born again. You will not use the most likely means to obtain this mighty blessing. What can I say but this, “the Lord have mercy upon your soul!”

        Reader, if you HAVE these marks I have been speaking of, be advised, and strive every year to make them more clear and plain. Let your repentance be a growing habit—your faith an increasing faith—your holiness a progressive holiness—your victory over the world a more decided victory—your love to the brethren a more hearty love—your watchfulness over yourself a more jealous watchfulness. Take this advice, and you will never repent of it. This is the way to be useful and happy in your religion. This is the way to put to silence the opposition of the enemies of truth. Let others, if they will, have Regeneration on their tongues, and nowhere else. Let it be your care to have it shining forth in your life, and to feel it in your heart.

        Reader, I commend what I have been saying to your serious consideration. I believe that I have told you nothing but what is God’s truth. You live in a day of gross darkness on the subject of Regeneration. Thousands are darkening God’s counsel by confounding baptism and Regeneration. Beware of this. Keep the two subjects separate in your mind. Get clear views about Regeneration first of all, and then you are not likely to fall into mistakes about baptism. And when you have got clear views hold them fast—and never let them go!

      • what did you mean by one day #14 may not be a “non-negotiable”?

        IF the institutional (visible) church sets about intentionally and intelligently reforming how it responds to victims of domestic abuse, so that victims are no longer disbelieved, discounted, blamed, falsely accused, shunned etc, but rather, are fully supported and the abusers cast out, then #14 will no longer be “non-negotiable” — because it will be more or less redundant.

        Does that explain what I meant? If not, keep asking me till I’ve explained it to your satisfaction. 🙂

      • Lost

        Thank you, Barb, for each response. This was through a very thick patch of fog. Yes, I understand your answers. Thank you for your patience and care with me.

        I’m very outraged as you can hear from my voice on here. I resist abuse to survive. I’m beaten down at times and have become very poor and at times I’m very scared since I left the abuser.

        I don’t love anybody more than doing what is right by God. And those who do evil I hate and I run from. I’m very cautious and realistic and decisive now. I love doing what is right and good and I fight anything that tries to prevent it pervert that.

        I find comfort in the truth and I love knowing that I don’t ever have to excuse sin and abuse again because of “grace” like the church teaches. They even commanded me to show grace and just pray and wait on the The Lord. Those people heard my desperate cry and they literally laughed. I was crushed and in tears as they chastised me for my anger and hurt. They ignored my begging for help to call evil evil. I fought hard to tell them the truth and they turned away in disgust and loved themselves and the abuser more than the truth.

        Happy studying indeed. Thank you.

  10. What to do

    What do you do when all churches try to keep the marriage at all cost?
    My husband is a porn addict for 30 years and 22 of those years he has been married to me. He has lied to me and deceived me our whole marriage. He has emotionally abused me and our 4 children. He is now claiming I am a terrible person who he cannot stand because I am demanding change or divorce. He is the complete victim in this whole thing. All Christian counseling says to stay together and preserve the marriage. My non Christian counselor says to leave him because I should not allow anyone to treat me like he has. I am concerned that divorced will be viewed as sin by God. I really do not know what to do. My husband claims to have stopped viewing porn so he says he is recovered, but his abusive behaviors still continue. Do you know of any counsellors that support your viewpoint?

    • twbtc

      Welcome to the blog ‘What to do’,

      You will notice that I changed your screen name to something less identifying. We like to encourage those new to the blog to read our New User’s page. It gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. If you would like us to change your screen name, just email me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com and I can do that.

      You asked “What do you do when all churches try to keep the marriage at all cost?”

      It is far too common that churches elevate the status of marriage above the persons. What they are essentially doing is making an idol out of marriage, and yes, they do want you to keep it (marriage) at all costs. Sadly, that cost includes the victim’s sanity and safety. Unfortunately, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to educate the vast majority of church leaders and christian counsellors about the true nature of abuse, the abuser’s mentality and tactics, and the biblical response to abuse. But that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself. May I suggest that you continue reading here on the blog. You can also search the blog by using the search bar on the right side and look through the TAGS found on top menu bar.

      To give you a place to start I have suggested some posts below based on your comment. We encourage you to keep reading, learning, and commenting here.

      Again, Welcome!!

      The idolatry of marriage the church is putting marriage on a pedestal

      Is there biblical grounds for divorcing an abuser? – Eternity magazine

      Divorce is Sin…Says Who! – Guest Article by Joe Pote

      The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse

      God hates divorce? Not always.

      Stop Saying “God Hates Divorce”

      An Ugly Topic: Pornography as a Fuel for Abuse

      Signs Your husband May Be Addicted to Pornography – By Wendell

    • Jeff Crippen

      What to do – If you go through our resources page here at ACFJ and also if you use the search engine box on the home page and do searches for “divorce” then I suspect you will come up with some answers to your questions. Yes, we do know counselors who support divorce for abuse. Leslie Vernick does (read her books). And of course we all do. So does David Instone-Brewer (see his books on our resource page). The Presbyterian Church in America, though they have many pastors who reject the idea, published an advisory study paper in the 1990s (it’s listed on our resources page) that concluded divorce is permissible for abuse. So there are numbers of people who agree with us. What is happening to you is that the Holy Spirit in you is directing you to freedom but you are being burdened down by the fog of false teaching and demands being laid upon you that tell you you will be in sin if you divorce. No way.

  11. Lost

    So many people I’ve found here- the leaders in the church, the police, the courts, advocates, and community, etc. do not actually help. They don’t want to hear about the abuse. They want to tell you what to think, say and do. They say things you didn’t say and go on and on. I have to stop people sometimes and say “this is what I mean….not that.” If people would just LISTEN! I’m not some auto-abused victim. I’m a person with thoughts and concerns and information! Even well meaning people. It’s like you have to find out who you really can talk to and shut up immediately when there’s people you know aren’t fully for you. I am not doing that well right now. Finding too many who get offended by my emotions. If you find ones who’ve been thru it AND see it clearly, they do help. They don’t get offended- they actually listen and help. Even the hotlines have volunteers that condemn and get frustrated with you at times. I’m sick of my life. Very angry. Seems like most in my life are super sensitive. “Don’t get mad at me” they say when I speak. It’s like people don’t really hear me at all. They get offended when I speak and I get no where. It’s like this is how my STBX should be treated, NOT me! Instead he’s calm and collected and people support him and love him so much. I cannot wait to be face to face with God and be away from this awful world that’s so saturated in injustice. I hate my life. I hate that so many people are disrespectful and blind. (C)hristians who have so much “love” for others but won’t see the truth or stand up for the truth. They just have fun with each other and if you makes waves you’re out. Adios. Well- better to be a hate outcast at than dead inside. DISGUSTING. I think God has to be so angry at the filth here. It’s wretched.

    And you know what? I think I have a better picture of Him now than ever. Sick of the Christian culture. Sick of people talking about how God answers they’re prayers like this or that. You know what? I talk to Him and He doesn’t answer. And I’m done looking for signs. I know He’s there. I know in Christ I’m born again and totally forgiven. So why didn’t I hear Him? I believed the lies! the abuse and those who manipulate and accuse me weighed in on me. I still don’t “hear” Him but at least I’m not mad at Him about it or trying to appeal to Him some how and then gathering “signs” as proof that He’s answering. He’s there and I’m here and He sees and I believe He wants me far away from the deceit and lies. Because that is what’s right. And I believe some churches are presenting are acting as if they are God and completely missing reality. Sure have seen it here.

    • Bunkababy

      To LOST,
      Oh boy! I love what you say. I love the tone and the venting. You don’t surprise me or offend me with your words. I read what you say and am happy you can, and are able to put your feelings into words.

      I think whatever form you can get it out of your system it is positive for your well-being.

      My husband was verbally abusive, and he was controlling and angry all the time with me. It paled in comparison to dealing with [the] child abuse that I experienced, but dealing with both things was tormenting to the soul. I would literally pull chunks of hair out of my head in pure frustration and feeling like I had no other options, because my husband was so unresponsive to my despair. That same night I drove myself off to the hospital after hiding in the bathroom trying to gouge my arm with a fork. My husband just watched me walk out the door like I was invisible. I told him I was afraid I would kill myself. No response.

      Anyhow, a very kind doctor counselled me and gave me Ativan.

      I came home and it was as if nothing had happened. It was so emotionally painful to the point my body was feeling waves of pain running up and down from head to toe.

      I used to drive for long periods of time and shout, scream, swear, and cry to the Lord until I could no longer drive. I tell you He (God) can bear all anger and sorrow. All pain and rejection. He listened to me and comforted me in my rage. He will do the same for you. He can take every emotion you throw at Him. And He will reveal his love to you in ways that speak to you the best.

      That is my prayer for you. Even though people who profess Christianity may fail you, and prove to you they are not what they say they are, God will never leave you or forsake you. Even when you feel unloved, rejected and torn to shreds inside, God is with you, and I pray He reveals His love and kindness to you.

      I know this though, I was so distressed I could not recognise His love and affection for me at the time. It is not until I looked back and could see where He intervened on my behalf. Where His kindness showed through the devastation. I want to assure you during this distressing period of time, men and women in your life may fail you but God will never. He will sustain you and give you little bits of hope to keep going.

      These people here are good, read the words of truth, let it sink in, let God restore you in the midst of your frustration and despair as you read.
      Thank you for your candor. I find it refreshing in an odd sense. I guess because you are able to let it out.

      I’m glad you found this page. There are many of us like you, you are not alone.

  12. GracePhantom

    These are a fantastic list. #14 is so necessary in a social media society that has permeated the church where sadly image is more important than safety. What are some ways to engage churches that are promoting and enabling abusers?

  13. Lee

    I think abuse of power, not power itself, is to blame here. Nobody can deny that there is such a sad thing as police brutality, but does that mean that we should not have any police anymore because a few spoil it for the rest? That would not make any sense. And should parents feel that their children are entitled to grow up without a sense of accountability to them because there have been parents in times past that have abused their authoritarian roles?

    Do we have to re-define the headship / leadership in order to have a safe home or society? … I would not resist any kind of spiritual leader in any capacity, whether home or church, if He was self sacrificing like my High Priest. But it doesn’t make sense to say do away with the entire Biblical model of a father being the spiritual leader in the home just because of an abuse of that role by others. That is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I just want to take God at His clear word. Otherwise, I am adding to His word, and am at risk for a man made reversing of the order, which could create more evils than the one we already have on account of sin. There are good men out there who love the Lord with all their heart and will not abuse their power of leadership.

    • UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Welcome to the blog. 🙂 I changed your screen name to Lee as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      We are not redefining the idea of man as head. We are simply wanting to be very clear about what headship is NOT.

      You might like to read this excellent post by Ps Sam Powell: Headship is not Hierarchy [Internet Archive link]. We will be adding that post to this page, when we get time. We are very busy all the time with lots to do on this blog!

      By the way, we don’t believe in saying that men are priests in their home; the Bible talks about the priesthood of all believers. We have a six-part series on this which starts here.

  14. ResistingTheLabels

    Number 10!!!! I tried to express this to my counselor this week. Sometimes it makes me angry. Anyone try living in my abuse for 40 years and see what effects it has on you! To label me in ways I’ve been labeled hurts me even more and by people who are supposed to be helping me heal.

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂 I’m glad you are finding it helpful.

      I changed your screen name to ResistingTheLabels as a precaution. It looked like you had given your real name, which isn’t often a good idea on this blog because your abuser might read your comment. If you want us to change it to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) —twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be happy to assist. 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  15. Jane

    Do you think that these non-negotiables includes financial abuse?

    • Definitely yes! Abusers can use all kinds of tactics to oppress and control and ‘punish’ their victims. Financial abuse is one of those tactics, and it is devastating. It has VERY long-term consequences for the victim.

      Do you think we need to modify this post to mention financial abuse? We’re happy to hear your feedback.

      You might like to look at our tag for Financial Abuse. There are currently 17 posts on this blog which have that tag. Perhaps the most useful one is this:

      Financial abuse from intimate partners — a lament, stories and tips to protect oneself

    • … Jane, welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

  16. Just an anon reader

    Hi there! I am just someone who has been reading your blog. I come from a normal, loving home, am single, and have never had history of abuse. But I found your blog a useful resource so I know what to look out for in the future (warning signs, etc).

    Is it just me, or do some believers make marriage look so unappealing because of the whole, “God made marriage to make us holy, not happy” or “Even if he abuses you / cheats on you it’s still not grounds for divorce because God can work in him”?

    I was browsing the web and this came up on my feed [Link removed by ACFJ Eds; we don’t publish links to other stuff unless we think there is real benefit for our readers in us doing so, and it was a dead link anyway.]
    Would you say her views line up with yours here? Because she says:

    Are there thousands of extenuating circumstances? Of course. However, I don’t believe a marriage should be at the mercy of circumstances. Barring actual physical abuse, I don’t hold cheating as grounds for dissolving a marriage. Ongoing cheating absolutely does not make for a real marriage – but it doesn’t let me off the hook.

    What I’m trying to say is that cheating on the part of a spouse does not negate my marriage vows. If they want to leave – if they want out – they are going to have to make that move.

    Now, from what I could see from her content overall, she’s a lovely person. But for this answer in particular, I wondered what you thought. Thanks!

    • Hi, the woman who wrote the quote you gave in your comment is obviously pretty clueless about the dynamics of domestic abuse and what the Bible says about domestic abuse.

      She might seem like a ‘nice woman’ — but nice is not always safe!

      I encourage you to dig into our FAQ page where you will find sections on divorce & remarriage and lots of other stuff too. That will help you discern the flaws and shortfalls in so-called ‘Christian teachers’ who are spouting their stuff.

      And welcome to the blog! 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      • Just An Anon Reader

        Thanks for the resources! I have learned a lot from your posts.

        Yeah, I find it interesting how she singles out physical abuse, as if emotional abuse doesn’t count? And waiting for the cheating spouse to make the first move to leave? That appears to have no biblical basis because adultery is grounds for divorce, and by staying while they continue to be unrepentant sounds like enabling to me.

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